MPAC representative outlines latest Puslinch assessment numbers

While residents here may not see any big dividends on their tax bills, the consolation is that Puslinch residential property assessments are not increasing as fast as the rest of Wellington County.

On July 20 Carla Nell, vice-president of municipal and stakeholder relations for Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), updated Puslinch councillors regarding 2016 municipal property assessments as they apply to local property owners.

“There is much happening this year within the corporation that will ultimately have an impact on property owners across the province as well as municipalities which rely on the assessments as their principal source of revenue,” Nell said.

She offered insight “to the myriad of changes which are being implemented, with a view to improving and enhancing the system in Ontario.”

In providing context, Nell said, “MPAC is but one of many players in Ontario’s property tax ecosystem.

“MPAC is ultimately charged with the responsibility of valuing more than 5.5 million properties of all types across the province each year.

“At present, MPAC is in the process of implementing our next four-year comprehensive assessment-wide update.”

She noted the province is currently in the last part of the 2012-16 assessment period – based on estimated market values from 2012.

“We are now in the process of finalizing a new set of values based on a more recent market date of Jan. 1, 2016.”

That set of values will form the basis of property tax processes to 2020.

“One of the most significant developments is the change in process in implementing a new value set, Nell said.

“Traditionally, MPAC would wait until the previous assessment period ended before updating.

“We have consciously begun that work much earlier … and have in fact, been involved in gathering information, analyzing sales and working on preliminary values for all 5.5 million properties across the province – for the better part of two years.”

Nell said that change in approach was deliberately implemented with the goal of providing insight into the assessments even earlier to provide stakeholders with an opportunity for early resolution.

“Ultimately your assessments will be more stable and predictable than in the past,” Nell explained.

She said significant time and resources have been spent to ensure the information is as current and as accurate as possible.

“For the Township of Puslinch that additional work has allowed us to update more than 2,700 data touch points within the community.”

She considered that significant as Puslinch has only 2,900 properties.

Nell said more information is being promoted to show how the information is gathered in addition to property-specific information.

“It is our (thought) that by sharing information early and often … there will be very significant benefits,” she said.

In Puslinch, mailouts of residential property notices were set to be sent out effective July 25.

Farm property notice mailouts are planned for Oct. 11 and multi-residential and business notices on Oct. 18.

These new assessments will serve as the basis for 2017 to 2020 property taxes.

Efforts were also directed to improving residential property assessment notices, through a redesign and use of plain language to ensure it would be more readily understood.

The web portal – or – provides even more data.

For many property owners, one of the most notable changes is a change in the appeal deadlines for a formal request for reconsideration.

“Traditionally the deadline would have been March 31, 2017 … the deadline is now 120 days from the issue date of the notice.”

For Puslinch residents, that means the deadline is Nov. 22.

Nell advocated residents carefully checking the information on the notice.

“As you look at our new value estimate … I encourage you to ask yourself one simple question … could I have sold my house for the amount shown on the notice as of Jan. 1, 2016?” she said.

Otherwise she asked residents to contact MPAC via mail, email or other means to ensure those concerns or questions can be addressed early.

Or a request for reconsideration can be filed by the Nov. 22 deadline.

As a measure of last resort, she said an appeal can be launched with the Assessment Review Board.

Nell stated that in Puslinch, the overall residential property class has increased by 2.3% per year since 2012, and is below the overall Wellington County average of 3.5%.

She added that amount is significantly lower than the provincial average of 4.5%.

Councillor Susan Fielding noted that many people, upon receiving an MPAC assessment notification, are quite mystified and she appreciated efforts being made to simplify the forms.

“It may actually save MPAC a lot of phone calls if people are better able to understand the forms,” said Fielding.

She added it was good that MPAC was working to achieve a stable base “so people are not blindsided.”

Councillor Ken Roth agreed things have come a long way. He recalled several municipal conferences where MPAC representatives had promised a lot of things.

“It finally looks like some of those promises are coming to fruition and I appreciate that,” Roth said.

Nell hoped the new forms are unequivocally clear as to the deadlines with the goal of providing an early and efficient response.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer said this will still be a significant change for people who anticipated having until next March to appeal their property assessment.

Mayor Dennis Lever was pleased to see the numbers presented as they related to Puslinch assessment increases.

Lever stated Puslinch has a history of its assessed property values increasing at a faster rate than the rest of Wellington County – thereby increasing its portion of the county levy.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into economic development within Wellington County and it is good to see the results,” he said.

While he expected it would be a long time before the rates are equal, Lever appreciated the efforts being made.